Former Hotel Reflects Decades of History

Building is at the center of a debate about preservation vs. development.

Every Huntington resident knows the big white building that stands at 410 New York Ave. How can you miss it?  What you might not know about the Aboff building is the historic land it sits on.

The property on the corner of New York Avenue and Fairview Street had been in the Scudder family for generations before it was a hotel. Reuben Scudder's home was located on this corner while his son, Charles, lived on the other end by Carver Street since 1895 and also bought the property on the south corner in 1923 from his sister, Juliet.

Later in 1924, Charles sold the whole block from Carver Street to Fairview to a group of Huntington investors for $110,000.  Shortly after the purchase, it was sold to a Manhattan company for $155,000.  This helped pave the way for the commercialization of New York Avenue.

The property sold two more times within that year and by the end of 1928, contractors started to build the Huntington Hotel.  The architect and First World War veteran, August H. Galow, was chosen for the project.  He graduated from Huntington High School in 1912 and two years later attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn as well as Columbia University's School of Architecture.  

Two buildings he designed were a Henry Perkins Hotel and the Suffolk County Historical Society Building in Riverhead, which is included in the National Register of Historical Places.

The Huntington Hotel opened its doors for business on June 16, 1929.  On July 2, before the grand opening, they held a gala of 150 guests and celebrated one of the finest hotels on Long Island. With 60 rooms, including three private dining rooms, it expressed historic style by showcasing murals by H. Willard Ortlip, a local artist.  

This time was a huge turning point for Huntington because of the hotel's success. Even in its first week, all the rooms were rented.  Soon organizations like the Girl Scouts and the Chamber of Commerce planned dinners and conferences there as well as the high school prom. The first two years were profitable until the Great Depression took hold.

For the next several years it was leased to corporations until 1950 when Oppenheim Collins leased the building and had it renovated into a department store. The third floor was removed and a new one-story addition was made to the building costing $150,000. The store opened during Christmas of 1951.

Again, business changed its course and Oppenheim merged with City Stores Company in 1966.  The year after, the property was officially owned by Millicent Kalt Glen Cove Inc., a high-end women's clothing store, until it was bought by Robert Woolley and Frank Cascio in 1976 who changed the name to Woolley's.

This building went through so many changes.  It is a pure example of how a community can undergo devastating times and find a way to rise to the top.

Business is business and the property brought Huntington much money and success.  Since 1984, the building continued to pass from owner to owner and ended up in the hands of RHG Realty LLC in 2003 with intentions to restore the historic landmark to its original condition.

Today, the issue is yet another business venture. This November, TD Bank submitted plans to demolish the historic building and build a one-story bank in its place.  With a modern design and three ATM drive-thru windows, the bank feels that it will benefit the area.  Keep in mind, their are plenty of banks in town.

Many residents continue to fight to keep the landmark on the corner.

The zoning board said the new plans meet all the standards and passed the request on Dec.16 under the condition they make the parking lot accessible when the bank is closed.  The historic preservation commission is scheduled to meet Jan. 24 and there will also be a Town Board meeting on Feb.1 at 7 p.m.

Town historian Robert Hughes stated the importance of the building for Newsday last month. "It plays an interesting part in the development of the town in the 1920s.  It was a culminating event in the town's explosive growth just before the Depression."  We all know Huntington is a historical city and with that comes fascinating stories, valuable memories and priceless pieces of architecture. 

When you learn about the past and history of an area, it helps you to see the future more clearly. Having an understanding of your environment and its importance is key to keeping that history alive. 

Check the town's website for updates.  To keep up with what residents are saying you can visit the Facebook page, Save the Historical Aboff  Building in Huntington.  For more information on the history of the building you can contact the Huntington Historical Society or .

Jan Witkowski January 14, 2011 at 03:20 AM
Thank you for this review of the significance of this building to the history and character of Huntington. Joseph Willen, the owner of the building, was quoted in Newsday, December 22, 2010, as follows: "Willen, who purchased the building in 2003, said in a statement it has remained commercial office space for more than 50 years, 'so I question any reference to its "historic" significance.'" He has not always questioned the historical significance of the building. Only two years ago he felt rather differently, as quoted in the New York Real Estate Journal in May 2008. Then he believed that the building was of such merit that “We intend to restore this building to its former elegance, which it deserves, as it marks the southern gateway into downtown Huntington…Our restoration and expansion of this building demonstrates Advantage's continued commitment to the community that we have always called home.” Presumably money speaks louder than a commitment to the community.
Ranger Sewer January 14, 2011 at 12:29 PM
It would be a sad day for Huntington and Suffolk County if we lose this gem. This building is the "Ellis island" of Huntington. Ranger Sewer RangerSewer.com
Melissa O'Connor-Arena January 14, 2011 at 01:06 PM
Yes Jan. I saw he said that as well as the plans for the new restoration. Sadly, it has never been done yet.
carole January 15, 2011 at 02:15 AM
Code 198-68-A(24)(c) requires the board to consider the impact of the proposal on the character and value of property in the neighborhood...wonder who the expert real estate testimony was completed by, regarding the impact of the proposed use upon the value of the property, character of the neighborhood, or the pattern of development.
pam February 01, 2011 at 12:19 AM
The people should be vigilant in preserving all of Huntington's historic buildings, especially the old Huntington Hotel building at 410 NY Avenue. We enjoy our Huntington Village because of its buildings. History and greatness are contained in the street scape architectures we love so much. The artistry, the bricks, the crown, the capitals, all of 410 NY Avenue, form a most important focal point of continuity therein. This magnificent and highly visible old building must remain and be protected.


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